What is this New Creature in Christ? Consider it by its Names…

Taken and adapted from, “The whole Works of the Rev. Oliver Heywood,”
Vol. 5, Chapter 2, The Nature of a New Creature.
Written by, Oliver Heywood.
Edited for thought and sense.

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What is this new creature?
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Here the names given to it and the nature by which it may be considered.

The names or titles given to this new creature are synonymous expressions holding forth the same thing for substance, are such as these:

1.   It is called the forming of Christ in the womb of a man’s heart; Gal. 4:19, “My little children of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you,”

2.   It is called quickening, Ephesians 2:1, ” And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Alas, what dull stocks and masses of sin we are, till animated with the Spirit of grace, and quickened by a vital principle! And this is done with Christ, ver. 5, by his resurrection.

3.   It is called parturition, or bringing forth by spiritual pangs of soul-travail; it is a new birth. John 3:3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Convincing grace brings a lively and lovely offspring into the world, better than the product of nature.

4.   Such converts are compared to little children. Matt, 18:3, “Verily, I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven;” that is, you must needs have the qualities and dispositions both of infants and larger children.

5.   This work of God on the soul, is called a dying with Christ, and a rising again with him: Rom. 6:5, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” All real Christians are risen with Christ, Col. 3:1; hence it is called the “first resurrection,” Rev. 20:6, as if they were newly brought out of their graves, when they had been long dead and useless.

6.   It is called the image of God on the soul. Col. 3:10, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” Eph. 4:2-1, “The new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” This new creature is a blessed resemblance of the Trinity of persons, in the renewing of the mind, will, and affections, conformable to God.

7.   It is called a divine nature, 2 Pet. 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature;” that is, of those divine qualities, whereby the soul resembles God, not only as a picture doth a man in outward lineaments, but as a child doth his father, both in countenance and condition. As the noble qualities of an immortal soul show that there is a God, so the renewed faculties show what that God is.

These are the names of this new creature, most of which are figurative expressions, denoting the same thing.

In our next section, we shall look at the nature of the new creature, by its deeper descriptions.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Oliver Heywood, third son of Richard Heywood, yeoman, by his first wife, Alice Critchlaw, was born at Little Lever, near Bolton, Lancashire, in March 1630.

In religious matters he was much influenced by the preaching of Samuel Hammond and joined with other students in a kind of religious club which met in the “garret-chamber” of Thomas Jollie. In 1650 he graduated Bachelor of Arts and soon began to preach; his first sermon was delivered at a village in the neighbourhood of Preston, Lancashire. By his uncle, Francis Critchlaw, he was recommended as preacher at Coley Chapel, near the village of Northowram, in the parish of Halifax, West Riding. He accepted this post, with a stipend of £30, on 26 November 1650, and refused an offer of Houghton Chapel, Lancashire. Though under the regular age, he was ordained on 4 August 1652 at Bury, Lancashire, by the second presbyterian classis of that county. His younger brother, Nathaniel, was minister at Illingworth Chapel, in the same parish of Halifax, and the two lived together in 1654 at Godley House.

Heywood removed to Northowram on his marriage in 1655. For many years before his settlement there had been no administration of Communion at Coley; he restored a monthly celebration in 1655, connecting it in 1657 with the introduction of church discipline in the presbyterian way. Hitherto his parishioners had been united in attachment to his ministry; the discipline divided them, and ‘sincere Christians’ became his ‘greatest trouble;’ his communion list reached seventy-three names. He persevered against opposition, declining calls to one of the two churches of St. Martin, York, and to the vicarage of Preston.

Heywood was a royalist presbyterian, and though he took no part in the insurrection under George Booth, 1st Baron Delamer, he disobeyed the order requiring a public thanksgiving for its suppression, and was accordingly apprehended and threatened with sequestration in August 1659. On the news that Monck had declared for the king, he breaks out in his diary into a psalm of praise. With the Restoration, however, his serious troubles began. Richard Hooke, the new vicar of Halifax, prohibited baptism in the outlying chapelries. Heywood continued to baptise, making his peace by sending the customaryperquisites to the vicar. On 23 January 1661 his ‘private fast’ was stopped by authority. Among his parishioners an influential party, headed by Stephen Ellis of Hipperholme, the man of most substance in the chapelry, was in favour of the resumption of the prayer-book. A copy was accordingly laid on the pulpit cushion on 25 August 1661. Heywood quietly set it aside. At the instigation of Ellis, Heywood was cited to York on 13 September, After several hearings his suspension from ministering in the diocese of York was published on 29 June 1662 in Halifax Church. For two or three Sundays he persisted in preaching; within a month of the taking effect of the Uniformity Act (24 August 1662) he was excommunicated, the sentence of excommunication being publicly read in Halifax Church on 2 November, in the parish church of Bolton, Lancashire, on 4 January 1663, and again at Halifax on 3 December 1663. Hence attempts were made to exclude him from churches, even as a hearer; while, on the other hand, Ellis, as churchwarden, claimed fines for his non-attendance at Coley Chapel, under the statute of Elizabeth. John Angier, his father-in-law, admitted him to the communion at Denton Chapel, Lancashire; on 5 June 1664 he preached, by the vicar’s invitation, in the parish church of Mottram-in-Longen Dale, Cheshire; and on 13 August 1665 he preached at Shadwell Chapel, near Leeds, Hardcastle, the minister, being then in prison for nonconformity.

The last ten years of Heywood’s life were somewhat troubled by symptoms of declining orthodoxy in some of his coadjutors. He maintained his own evangelistic work with unimpaired vigour till the close of 1699. In 1700 his health broke; asthma confined him to Northowram. From 5 December 1701 he was carried to his meeting-house in a chair. He died at Northowram on Monday, 4 May 1702, and was buried in a side chapel of Halifax Church, known as ‘ Holdsworth’s works,’ in his mother’s grave.